My Latest Book

Dear Friends, sorry to have been away for a while. I have just published this book with Amazon: An Advanced Survival Guide For Dishonest Political Bastards. I started the book with a review by a fictitious senior lecturer from Sydney University writing (fictitiously) in The Sydney Morning Herald.

I thought the “review” might be readable on my web site so here it is. This second book is a sequel to one published in 2005 without the “Advanced.” The new book will be available in e-form and paperback in a few days. Thanks for your visit.

Critical Review

Dr Adrian Arbiter’s Critique*

Royce Levi, in his Advanced Survival Guide, has provided an ironic historical satire about political behaviour in the modern world. To do this the writer adopts an assumed right wing persona and proceeds to praise devotedly “approved” historical figures as ideal role models. These models of political behaviour are certainly not angels. To the mocking writer they are.

They notably include moguls Joseph Pulitzer, Randolph Hearst and Edward Bernays as well as Australia’s highly successful John Howard and another prime minister Harold Holt. History is the key: political mores are linked to past events in both peace and war. The order in the House is actually organised disorder tied to political agendas.

There is a touch of parody in the writing. The so-called “advice” consistently reeks of extreme, ruthless, political gamesmanship. Big tongue in big cheek.

The how to do it subject matter is presented in roughly historical order, with a pointed warning at the head of Chapter1. There we are told that “Every House of Government is a theatre of pretence where myths and legends are acted out in the masks and costumes of  false reality.” 

We meet first Joseph Pulitzer, “giant of influence,” and “power broker extraordinaire.” His media magic, involving “stunts, exposés, ‘Crusades,’ innovative illustrations, and sensationalism,” is portrayed as a source of immense power. Note the difference between a democrat and a plutocrat: people power versus rich power. We meet the powerful Greek word: kratos: ‘power.’ The Pulitzer Prize, still ranking as one of the highest social achievements, is even today still an indication of Pulitzer’s power.

Then we find Randolph Hearst, via what is known as the Yellow Press, providing us with more strategies of political power. Newsman Hearst is presented as a powerful role model closely linked to success in politics. “His papers attacked President McKinley, even suggesting he be removed from office by force. In 1901, at the height of the Hearst abuse, McKinley was assassinated.”

The Advanced Survival Guide also delves into the life of the omnipotent Edward Bernays. Much is made of this man’s importance, his extensive impact on generations of humanity. “It was Bernays’ vast personal influence, his mind control of the masses, that determined so much of the shape of the twentieth century. “

It is in the mind games of politics that Bernays is declared indispensable. The man’s own words provide the evidence: “…we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” This is golden guidance for politicians who are au fait with mind control populism.

Attention to the main figures above is far from the complete story. The text abounds in allusions to other mind play, ranging from Plato and his cave (see Chapter 12 p. 42 ) to Nixon’s “silent majority.” The text is the author’s personal journey, rich in its variety and often surprising. One of the surprises is the array of Des Carts axioms such as “as fit as a diddle,” scattered throughout the text. Approval from the French philosopher René Descartes seems unlikely.

Extensive referencing is another feature of the book. Sources are meticulously recorded. One can assume that because this is a “guide,” the author’s intent is to encourage in the probationary politicians expansive and rigorous reading. Web sites as well as specific texts are thus referenced.

The Epilogue is a puzzle. At first sight it seems to be an off-topic collection of irrelevancies. Maybe, we are told, the supplement comes via social media from a recently retired prime minister. At the beginning and end of the Epilogue however, there are significant editorial notes. They point out that politicians are dealers in off-topic subjects. “Skill with talking to fill out time is standard political practice. At the extreme level is the American filibuster, but far more common is the long-winded beside-the-point speech in defence of disastrous policies.” 

Apart from the entertainment value of many of the Epilogue’s items, the author seems to be deliberately having fun with sayings. He provides his own defence: “Political methodology depends, indeed thrives on glib-tongued, fluent irrelevancies that hide ill-timed, unsuitable or inconvenient reality.” The variety makes interesting reading.

We discover via the narrative of this text, a new political term: in-for-a-structure. “It refers to the very common practice of selling off state property or services and then using the funds to build tall buildings. This creates the illusion (or is it delusion?) of creative power. As the writer puts it, “No negatives. Do it. Sell off the family jewels and look masterly.”

The tone of the writing seems to deserve my final words – words about its jocular spirit. Humour and satire have long been linked to each other. Lemuel Gulliver’s (Jonathan Swift’s) adventures are one of the best examples of this. 

Mock heroic urgings abound in the text. An example: “Your task is to use Bernays on the reasoning-impaired masses and, through them, win the power and the glory O so ready and waiting for YOU…We use ’em! Confuse ’em! Enthuse ’em! Advance triumphant you partisan know-it-alls. Go! Go! Go! Fool the fools.” 

With those words from the text I leave you to your own reading.  Adrian Arbiter.

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  • Dr Adrian Arbiter is a fictitious Senior Lecturer in Politics at Sydney University writing in The Sydney Morning Herald.